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Scientists have cloned a Pyrenean ibex, an extinct genetically distinct subspecies of the Spanish ibex, shown here. The ibex, known for its curved horns went extinct in 2000. Scientists resurrected it with a skin sample, though it was born with a lung defect and soon died.  (Source: Jose Luis GOMEZ de FRANCISCO/naturepl.com)
New cloning work could clear the way for resurrection of many recently extinct beasts

In the realm of commercial cloning, trickled-down technology from this cutting edge field of research has allowed firms to offer pet cloning services.  And in the realm of research, tremendous advances continue as scientists are hatching plans to resurrect extinct beasts.  Scientists have almost finished mapping the Woolly Mammoth genome, and have already injected DNA from an extinct species into a mouse.

Now arguably the greatest landmark event for the field of cloning has occurred.  Scientists have for the first time cloned an extinct animal, the Pyrenean ibex, a form of wild mountain goat.  The really spectacular thing about this cloning effort is that it was done using only DNA from skin samples. 

Technically classed as a genetically distinct subspecies of the Spanish ibex, the Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo as it is called by the locals, used to roam the mountainous hillside of northern Spain.  Known for its distinct horns, the animal was a popular target for hunters, and by the 19th century only 100 were left.  The species was not declared protected until 1973, at which time there were around 30 animals.  In 2000, the last known member of this critically endangered species was found dead on a hillside.  Researchers at the time decided to wisely preserve skin samples in liquid nitrogen.

The well-preserved skin samples proved a fruitful source for DNA.  Replicating this DNA using common genomic techniques, the researchers injected it into goat eggs, replacing the goat DNA.

While a great success, the effort also showcased the difficult road ahead for producing viable clones.  While born alive, the newborn ibex kid had defects in its lungs, similar to those found in many cloned sheep, and they proved fatal.  However, as some sheep clones have lived relatively normal lifespans, the success raises the hope of a more permanent resurrection.

Dr Jose Folch, from the Centre of Food Technology and Research of Aragon helped lead the research.  He states, "The delivered kid was genetically identical to the bucardo. In species such as bucardo, cloning is the only possibility to avoid its complete disappearance."

Professor Robert Miller, director the Medical Research Council's Reproductive Sciences Unit at Edinburgh University who heads a northern white rhino cloning effort funded by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland cheered the news.  He states, "I think this is an exciting advance as it does show the potential of being able to regenerate extinct species. Clearly there is some way to go before it can be used effectively, but the advances in this field are such that we will see more and more solutions to the problems faced."

The race is now on to make sure that critically endangered species' tissues are preserved for future cloning efforts.  Britain's Zoological Society of London and America's Natural History Museum have teamed up in a project called Frozen Ark.  They are in the process of storing samples from thousands of species.

While cloning a dinosaur is highly improbable due to DNA's chemical tendency to rapidly break apart to the point where it cannot be sequenced, this new breakthrough paves the way for cloning of both endangered species, and extinct species with fully sequenced genomes, such as Neanderthals or, likely soon, the Woolly Mammoth.  However, this new work also highlights the extreme challenge ahead in trying to establish a sustainable population of a cloned animal, or even clones that live to reach adulthood.



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Why lungs defective?
By MBlueD on 2/2/2009 8:33:01 AM , Rating: 2
Why do cloned animals have lung defects?




RE: Why lungs defective?
By kontorotsui on 2/2/2009 8:35:33 AM , Rating: 5
Because DNA copies are not always exact. And making them from already bad copies, like the skin, is not the same as a "fresh" newly made DNA from male and female gametes.
Skin cells can work with bad/corrupted "lung data" in the code, as they won't use it, but it's too bad for a newborn to start with that bad code.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By LRonaldHubbs on 2/2/2009 8:46:17 AM , Rating: 5
I think the question was more about why there are lung defects, not just why there are defects in general. The article noted that lung defects are common in cloned sheep. I too am curious why the lungs in particular are commonly defective.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/2/2009 8:54:04 AM , Rating: 5
Probably due to complexity. Lungs are quite advanced organs compared to many others.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By phazers on 2/2/2009 10:25:42 AM , Rating: 5
In mammals, I would think the brain would be the most advanced organ...


RE: Why lungs defective?
By jRaskell on 2/2/2009 11:07:17 AM , Rating: 5
It's likely the fetus would never reach birth with a truly defective brain, where-as organs such as the lungs don't really have an affect on viability until birth, at which point they have to be used.

It's also possible a number of other organs were defective as well, but those organs won't have as immediate an affect on the life of the clone as the lungs do. If you can't breath, you're going to die rather quickly. If your kidneys or liver don't work, you'll live much longer before they start becoming a problem.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By masher2 (blog) on 2/2/2009 11:10:58 AM , Rating: 3
While your other points are valid, a fetus can be viable with a heavily damaged (or even nonexistent) forebrain. The relatively small brain stem is the part required for basic life functions.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By teldar on 2/2/2009 2:45:19 PM , Rating: 2
This would allow them to possibly live to reproductive maturity so they could be inseminated and produce viable offspring.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Suntan on 2/2/09, Rating: -1
RE: Why lungs defective?
By afkrotch on 2/2/2009 12:23:49 PM , Rating: 5
Ya, like the ppl that have a signature of just their name, when it's already show.

- afkrotch (hizzahahahaha!!!!)


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Suntan on 2/2/09, Rating: -1
RE: Why lungs defective?
By justinmcg67 on 2/2/09, Rating: 0
RE: Why lungs defective?
By GodisanAtheist on 2/2/2009 6:37:21 PM , Rating: 4
He missed one letter in one of his posts while you intentionally type 6 at the end of each of yours.

Its OK not to have a witty comeback each and every time.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By nugundam93 on 2/4/2009 7:15:16 AM , Rating: 2
love those times when the pot and kettle get together and start calling each other names. :D


RE: Why lungs defective?
By cochy on 2/2/2009 12:30:16 PM , Rating: 5
Me no brain?

hahaha hahahahah

Why I laugh?


RE: Why lungs defective?
By DonkeyRhubarb on 2/2/2009 12:50:49 PM , Rating: 5
Me fail English?

That's unpossible!


RE: Why lungs defective?
By kenji4life on 2/2/2009 8:55:49 PM , Rating: 2
"My cat's breath smells like catfood!!!"

My favorite from Homer:

"I am so smart, I am so smart, I am so smart, I am so smart, S-M-R-T, I mean, S-M-A-R-T."


RE: Why lungs defective?
By unrated on 2/2/2009 2:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
I think you are misunderestimating us.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By teldar on 2/2/2009 2:44:00 PM , Rating: 2
You would think so.... however.... Who have you talked to today and how have they made you feel?


RE: Why lungs defective?
By rcc on 2/3/2009 1:45:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In mammals, I would think the brain would be the most advanced organ...


Well, yes, but.... have you ever tried to give an IQ test to a sheep, or goat?

:)

Seriously though, you have a point, but it is a pretty simple brain.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Aloonatic on 2/2/2009 9:40:02 AM , Rating: 2
There probably are many many many other problems that aren't highlighted.

I guess that lung complaints show up earlier than others. If your lungs are inherently defective then you aren't going to last long, at least not long enough for other complaints to show up that clearly.

<probably really poor analogy>

Kinda like a PSU being defective, without the power getting into a system correctly then you aren't going to find out if there are too many problems elsewhere that easily. Distinguishing between the effects of one faulty part on other parts and the damage that was there beforehand may not be that simple.

</ probably really poor analogy>


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Pneumothorax on 2/2/2009 10:12:03 AM , Rating: 3
Another factor is also lung defects most likely would kill the clone after birth, as the mom is "breathing" for the fetus until it's born. I'm pretty sure there other clones who died in utero prior to this one from other defects that would kill the fetus earlier in development.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Murloc on 2/2/2009 10:32:09 AM , Rating: 3
The sheeps also had artrosis.
I think this kind of research is important, it would be cool to have a perfect mammoth.
More food in nordic countries.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By SoCalBoomer on 2/2/2009 3:36:11 PM , Rating: 1
DOH - sorry, I clicked NOT instead of Worth! Sorry - I was thinking the same line as you were and think it's a great comment. :(


RE: Why lungs defective?
By genedude on 2/2/2009 12:45:21 PM , Rating: 2
A viable organism needs a good DNA sequence AND good imprinting, which refers to the turning on and off of critical genes. The imprinting process depends on the sex or the organism, environment, and other incompletely understood factors. Many cloned animals have a few “organ development” genes that are incorrectly imprinted, resulting in malformations. As another poster suggested, many organs are affected, but the lung malformations are more lethal in the newborn period.

On a side note, humans who have imprinting problems in a few genes can have serious issues—Google Image “Prader-Willi” and “Beckwith Wiedemann”. The latter syndrome is increased in babies conceived by in vitro fertilization, which is a thousand times less complex than cloning.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Ictor on 2/2/09, Rating: 0
RE: Why lungs defective?
By JS on 2/2/2009 7:11:35 PM , Rating: 2
Why would the meat be any worse for consumption just because its DNA is not 100% correct? It's not like your stomach or your taste buds care about DNA spirals, unless they directly affect the quality of the meat. And if the quality of the meat is low it will probably not sell very well.

If the cloned cows are not suffering and the meat quality is ok, I wouldn't mind eating cloned meat.

Personally I'm looking forward to the day when we can grow filet mignon without the cow in a vat. Then the whole world can hopefully enjoy meat without the immense environmental impact of grazing cattle.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By masher2 (blog) on 2/2/2009 10:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then the whole world can hopefully enjoy meat without the immense environmental impact of grazing cattle
Yet another example of environmental idiocy, eh? By blocking the nascent nuclear power industry, they essentially doubled world carbon emissions over the last 30 years. Now, they're doing their best to block bioengineering, the one advance that has more potential to reduce human impact on the planet than any other.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Myg on 2/3/2009 7:00:35 AM , Rating: 2
"Now, they're doing their best to block bioengineering, the one advance that has more potential to reduce human impact on the planet than any other"

Did you just say "reduce"?

So, by forcefully altering the natural balance that has come about after countless years of adaptation, we can reduce our impact?

Masher; did you even think before you wrote that?


RE: Why lungs defective?
By masher2 (blog) on 2/3/2009 10:13:19 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Did you just say "reduce"?
Yes, quite clearly. A new variant of corn with higher yields could dramatically reduce the amount of cultivated land needed. It could reduce the amount of water, (fossil-fuel based) fertilizer or pesticides needed as well.

Currently, meat farming alone accounts for more pollution and emissions than does the entire transportation sector-- cars, trucks, buses, planes and trains all combined. Biotech has the ability to eliminate that entirely.

quote:
by forcefully altering the natural balance
Ah, the myth of the "delicate balance of nature" arises again. Nature is always changing. And introducing a new variant of corn isn't going to lead to any more disruption than a new breed of dog or goldfish would do -- something we've done through forced breeding countless times already.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Myg on 2/3/2009 10:34:23 AM , Rating: 1
Indeed, but we didn't create nature; so we don't direct its evolution/direction. Nor have the knowledge/understanding to fiddle with such things beyond its normal working parameters (mixing viable/breedable creatures).

Bioengineering is a step too far, its going beyond the barriers placed down by nature in the first place (probably for its own protection/balance ;-) ). It can only lead to huge short term gains and catastrophic long term situations.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By masher2 (blog) on 2/3/2009 11:08:37 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Nor have the knowledge/understanding to fiddle with such things
We didn't have the knowledge to "fiddle with" electricity in the 1600s, or steam engines in the 1700s, or fossil fuels in the 1800s, or even computers a scant 50 years ago. We learned as we went along...and as a result, our lives are immeasureably more pleasant, comfortable, and civilized than ever before in history.

Now, it seems a growing segment of our population is not only too ignorant and fearful to make new advances, but they actually want to roll back the ones we've already made. One can only hope this pernicious, short-sited philosophy dies out before it does more harm than it has.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By mead drinker on 2/5/2009 2:43:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Now, it seems a growing segment of our population is not only too ignorant and fearful to make new advances, but they actually want to roll back the ones we've already made. One can only hope this pernicious, short-sited philosophy dies out before it does more harm than it has.

Masher, this philosophy is not new. One only has to cite Sagan's discourse at the library of Alexandria to hear the same prophetic words, and witness the sheer absurdity that these groups encompass. The tempering of technological advancement and human complacency is itself a question founded in existentialism. The only thing that has changed is the outlet that these people are attempting to "preserve," most recent the environment. The good thing is that progress still continues today despite the machinations of these ignorant people. The sad thing is without the avarice of corporations, government, and empires none would be made.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Myg on 2/6/2009 7:46:06 AM , Rating: 2
Bio-engineering is like trying to hex edit compiled code to force it to adapt to your needs, without having the source code.

You may get a function working in a way you want for a while, but it may be impossible to predict how that change will carry over to the rest of the program as it pans itself out in time.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Myg on 2/6/2009 7:46:14 AM , Rating: 2
Bio-engineering is like trying to hex edit compiled code to force it to adapt to your needs, without having the source code.

You may get a function working in a way you want for a while, but it may be impossible to predict how that change will carry over to the rest of the program as it pans itself out in time.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Spivonious on 2/6/2009 11:08:57 AM , Rating: 1
Exactly, hasn't anyone else read Jurassic Park? No one on the team thought that the frog DNA would cause problems, after all the dinosaurs were perfectly healthy females at birth.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Ictor on 2/6/2009 2:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
One can only hope this pernicious, short-sited philosophy dies out before it does more harm than it has.


How about a long-sited philosophy. Look at the extreme version of biotech. In the extreme version, genes of many unrelated species (incl. human) are inserted into the dna of, for instance, a bacteria. If such a lifeform is created, with the ability to reproduce itself and on top of that escapes into the enviroment. Can you predict what the outcome will be? Will it be a "new" lifeform taking it's place in the eternal battle for the fittest or will it be a biological disaster.

My guess is the last option. A long-sited philosophy says, that when the extreme version of a technology is a deadly disaster, than a small dose of that same technology in the long run and widespread use won't be any better.

Biotech will someday leave the minds of people as the solution for mankinds problems because reason says it will.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By William Gaatjes on 2/3/2009 3:52:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Currently, meat farming alone accounts for more pollution and emissions than does the entire transportation sector-- cars, trucks, buses, planes and trains all combined. Biotech has the ability to eliminate that entirely.


I personally would love to see a bio-technology that allowed us to build steaks or any other kind of meat that tastes the same and has the same texture as for example an used grown muscle. That would make the meat farming no longer necessary and be much more efficiënt and reduce the pollutions and emissions. Instead of growing an entire animal we would just grow steakes.

For the vegeterians among us a reason to cheer because they will be able to eat meat too. But since the animals in meat farming are used for almost 100% for various industries, we have to use biotech to provide substitutions for those industries as well. But that is all details. And no, we would be just replacing jobs and not killing jobs.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By mac2j on 2/2/2009 3:11:34 PM , Rating: 1
It seems to be an issue with this particular type of animal - sheep/goats etc as lung defects are not the main problem cloning - for example - dogs or cats.

The reason is basically this -- when you take Skin DNA it has to be re-programmed to be 'anything' DNA which can give rise to a whole new organism. Ungulate DNA seems to have an issue with getting the particular part of DNA that regulates early lung development fully reprogrammed.


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